Day 60: North Sandy to Reid Glacier: It is another amazing day in Glacier Bay. We continue working our way up bay while enjoying the warm sunny weather which is very unusual for this area. We peak our nose in Tidal Inlet and spot a brown bear on shore. Reaching the high granite peaks of […]
August 18, 2018
Reflections on Greenland while at anchor in Iqaliut
Before taking this trip we had scoured the internet for books on Greenland and settled on “This Cold Heaven” by a Danish author, Greta Erlich.
The book was a well written mix of personal stories and the history of the waves of inhabitants in Greenland, but focused more on the areas north of Ilulissat, which is as far north as we went on this trip.
The two towns north of the Arctic Circle we visited were much like the descriptions in the book. However, Greenland is moving so quickly into the modern world that much of the Inuit traditional life seemed to us to be swallowed up by cars, modern buildings, stores, café’s, airports, and modern small boats. The movement of people from the small settlements into the larger towns and the construction of more and more apartment blocks has been swift. Several of the towns had massive fish processing plants to handle the fish caught from the productive waters fed by the Labrador Current.
Greenland has also been “discovered” by tourists like us, with more cruise ship visits and the allure of adventure travel to one of the last isolated places on earth. So, some of the towns cater to skiers, hikers, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. Just in Ilulissat alone we saw four other cruise ships, some just scenic cruising, others like the Seabourn Quest anchoring off the town and going ashore or cruising the Icefjord in Zodiacs. There was a thriving business of locally operated whale watching and iceberg tours.
I think what surprised us the most was the amount of “green”, the variety of vegetation thriving in the brief summer season. We also did not realize how much of the western coastline is ice free all year, even north of the Arctic Circle.
Last night we anchored off the town of Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut. Before the Northwest Territories were split in two, the town was called Frobisher Bay and sits on the bay itself. We are not allowed off the boat and into the town, it is Canada Customs clearance only. There are still patches of snow on the surrounding hills, which are much lower and rounded compared to Greenland’s west coast.
The morning was overcast, but by noon patches of sun broke through the clouds as we prepared to head for our next stops, zodiac tours by three islands, Monumental Island, Lady Franklin Island and Akpatok Island, where we may see polar bears and other wildlife. This will be possible only if the wind and seas permit launching the zodiacs.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
Lady Franklin and Monumental Islands
The ship is lying still several miles off the islands, which are in Davis Strait and in the open ocean. There are icebergs of various sizes visible all around the horizon. The winds are light as promised, with a low swell. At 0530 we headed to the embarkation point for the zodiac tour at 0600 to Lady Franklin Islands. The first departure group was small, only 21 people and 2 zodiacs. Heading to the islands, the fog began to settle in as the sun rose higher above the horizon through broken clouds. Our guides spotted a polar bear on one of the islets comprising the group and we were able to approach quietly and get some photos and observe through binoculars. The were also Ravens, Black Guillemots and Fulmars on the island or in the water.
August 2018 Cape May, NJ, Chesapeake City, VA – Severna Park, MD – Herrington Harbor Marina and Resort – Solomons Island Yacht Club, MD – Slaughter Creek, MD –
We thought it would be much much more. The boat owner told us that this morning. He’s young and a trooper. He’s been working on that tub all day by himself. No wonder he’s thin and toned and fit….
Our cruise today took us to Severna Park and to our Marathon, FL, sailing friends’ dock. We met Tom and Elinor years ago when we were next slip neighbors. Tom’s an avid cyclist and we rode with him in the Keys as well as on the B and A Trail while visiting them in MD. They’re always wonderful hosts and enjoyable company.
Their Meridian and our Kindred Spirit III as seen from their deck
This morning we had a 6:30 AM ride with Tom and enjoyed a coffee at The Big Bean situated along the trail.
While at Tom and Elinor’s, Mike, a friend with whom I used to work, was in the area to celebrate his mom’s 92nd birthday. He came over for a boat visit. T’was fun catching up on our lives in the decade plus since we were both gainfully employed.
Our last full day in Severna and a wonderful one. I went with Tom on the best ride I’ve ever done since we’ve been riding our Bike Fridays 13 years ago. I felt wonderful, it was fun, and there was NO whining. The route was a new one—on the B&A Trail and through some historic neighborhoods. I came home on an endorphin high.
Since the ocean was unfriendly to us couple weeks ago causing us to abort our trip to LI, we were left with loose ends for a few weeks. We connected with the Chesapeake Bay Cruisers for a 2 week cruise of 8-10 boats and we’re havng a ball! The organizers have done an incredible job of lining up marinas and restaurants. We knew just a few couples since we’re rarely in this area but have met new friends and are having the time of our lives. Definitely the best group cruise we’ve ever taken. We departed Solomons today and are cruising the bay.
Our first 2 nights are in Herrington Harbor Marina and Resort and what a spectacular place with approximately 700 slips.
Cocktails this evening on the cusp of Herring Bay while docked at Herrington Harbor South. Foremost is a great pool with designated lap lanes. I was using fins and kick board and “they” deemed my kick board, a ‘flotation device’ which is outlawed! Was expecting them to call my fins a ‘pool toy’. Whatever! Just for a day and more than happy to have a pool with lane lines. No T but flip turns weren’t a prob. Joined a group at 7:30 for a walk. Was so accustomed to Tom’s 6:30 launch that we felt like we were sleeping in. Fun place and a fun buncha boat people.
Bill and Laura
Mom and Dad decided to try something different for Red Head’s cruise down the New Jersey shore. It’s never been a favorite passage. The plan was to leave the Sandy Hook anchorage and go nonstop to the Cape Henlopen anchorage in Delaware. It’s a 125 nm passage. If the crew could leave at dawn, then Red Head could be in by dusk. A long day.
The crew was awakened at 4:30 am, happy to receive breakfast early. Dee Dee and Dora quickly settled on the pilothouse settee.
While Dylan chose to settle in front of the starboard side door to catch some breezes. Mom and Dad started hauling the anchor and left the anchorage as the sun rose.
For Dora, it was another first. Her maiden voyage on the ocean. She loved sniffing the ocean air. It was a good trip, although a bit bouncy in the middle of the day. So how did she do?
Why, she handled it with aplomb!
Trondheim is a beautiful waterside city with many excellent restaurants and attractions, including a rock music museum, the world’s only bicycle lift, the largest medieval building in Scandinavia, a 17th-century fort and the remains of a massive Nazi-built submarine pen. The city has made a real successful effort to be bicycle friendly and is a…
Route of the Vikings – Part 4
August 7, 2018
After holding station in the wind and waves for several hours, we listened to the local pilot describe his experiences during the eruption in 1973. He was 11 years old at the time and talked about the noise, earthquakes, sirens waking people and the ash. Fortunately, the fishing fleet was in and all 5000 residents were evacuated to the mainland, where many remained for more than two years. There are now about 4000 residents in the town, with regular ferry service to the mainland.
Turning around in the 40 knot winds, we headed back down the east side of the Westman Islands, past the final Island of Surtsey, the newest volcanic island in the chain.
Heading just slightly south of west, our ship then headed out into the Denmark Strait for the 850 nautical mile crossing to the south of Greenland and Prince Christian Sound where we will do scenic cruising. The ship continued moderate rolling in the seas and winds, which gradually calmed overnight.
August 8, 2018
Today is a quiet day at sea, with a mandatory briefing required for passengers on all ships belonging to AECO (Arctic Expedition Cruise Organization), similar to the briefings required before we landed in Antarctica several years ago. The briefings cover protection of the environment, wildlife, plants and indigenous cultures we will be exposed to while ashore. No passenger will be allowed ashore if they did not attend the briefing.
We then attended a lecture with photos on all the Greenland ports we will visit, with information on what we will see and do, very informative.
The Captain’s Reception was held this evening, it was a low key event, just the introduction of part of the senior crew and two short performances by members of the shipboard entertainment staff. Later in the evening, the fog horn started sounding as the visibility decreased. Dinner this evening was in “The Grill”, the Thomas Keller specialty dining venue emulating a 50’s-60’s Steakhouse with a modern flair. In our opinion the food we chose was good, but not great and the portions were too large for us.
The foghorn continued all night.
August 9, 2018
This morning we are approaching the southern tip of Greenland, in dense fog. Our destination for the day is Prince Christian Sound, which separates the mainland from the southern island and Cape Farewell via a narrow channel not unlike the fjords in SE Alaska, Norway and British Columbia. We will enter from the east and exit on the west coast some 100 kilometers later.
The fog lifted about 3 miles from the coast and we entered the narrow passage in rain. The ship stopped about 5 miles up the passage and offloaded 4 zodiacs for our tour. We were in the first wave, 40 people/10 per zodiac. In cold rain, heavy at times, we explored ahead of the ship and into the first tidewater glacier coming down from the Greenland Ice Cap. There were a number of bearded seals lounging on the ice floes and the glacier was actively calving. By this time, the ship caught up with us and waited outside the inlet while we pushed as far into the ice as possible, getting to within about ¼ mile from the end, the closest safe distance if a large calving were to occur.
Returning to the ship, after disembarking and having some hot chocolate, Patrick headed out on the second zodiac tour. The rain was much lighter and when close to the glacier face, a large segment splashed down creating a miniature tsunami. The waves were about three feet high when they reached the zodiacs.
After returning to the ship the zodiacs were loaded back into the stern compartment and the Seabourn Quest continued its transit of Prince Christian Sound, zig zagging our way to the west coast of Greenland past more glaciers and spectacular jagged peaks and one small town of 130 people. We exited back into the open sea and more fog banks about 1800.
August 10, 2018
Our stop for today was Qaqortoq, the largest city in South Greenland, with a population of more than 3200. The Seabourn Quest anchored in the fog about 0630, just off the small harbor, which was often not visible.
Shortly after, the cruise ship Nautica also anchored. At 0900 we departed on our Zodiac tour, in the fog, for a one hour ride to the Norse Greenland Unesco site at Hvalsey, consisting of a church and other buildings, partly excavated, dating to the 10th century. The site was abandoned sometime before 1500, the exact date is not known. The fog lifted for most of our one hour visit and then settled back in as we headed back to the ship, past several large bergs.
Due to fog, Patrick’s kayaking tour was cancelled, so after a quick lunch during which the fog disappeared and the sun appeared, we both headed ashore and took in some local sights, including a fish market with freshly caught whale meat and shops selling very expensive souvenirs.
August 11, 2018
Most of the evening the ship sailed in clear seas, but in the morning the fog settled in close to the coast as we approached our anchorage off the small town of Paamiut. The fog lifted just before the decision to cancel the water tours, so we were able to go. Miriam did a Zodiac Tour and Patrick did sea kayaking. Both tours passed by shipwrecks, icebergs, whale carcasses and fishing equipment. After lunch we headed ashore and walked the town, went through the museum and hiked up to a viewpoint. Although small, this town had a lot of charm, with a restored turf house and old fishing vessels on display.
Returning to the ship we were treated to views of a number of humpback whales as we exited the anchorage. The weather was nice enough to eat outside at the Patio Grill, although we did have blankets for added warmth. During dinner we passed a section of the Greenland Ice Cap looking like a massive fog bank lying on top of the land.
August 12, 2018
Nuuk is the capital of Greenland and its 17,000 inhabitants comprise about 30% of the total Greenland population. One of the apartment blocks houses more than 1% of people! The town is situated on a rocky hill projecting out at the intersection of two fjords.
Seabourn Quest docked at the port, the first time we have been dockside since leaving Reykjavik. Patrick took a zodiac tour up Kobbefjord to a lake and research station. The relatively warm weather brought out millions of mosquitoes and took the edge off an otherwise great excursion. After Patrick returned to the ship Miriam and Patrick headed into town for a guided tour of the Greenland National Museum, led by Dr. Colleen Batey, who is an expert on vikings. The visit included the “Norse” Greenlanders and the Greenland mummies dating to 1475 which were found a few years ago.
August 13, 2018
Arriving in dense fog off the town of Maniitsoq, all operations were delayed until the fog lifted enough to see the shore. The ship was about 2.5 miles from town due to reefs too dangerous to anchor near. The morning kayak trip was cancelled, so when tender operations were started, 90 minutes late, we headed into town, visiting the fish market, museum, hotel, jewelry workshop, church and graveyard. It was also the first day of school for the local kids, so that was interesting. Both the children and parents were dressed in traditional costumes for the event. Patrick did another kayak tour in the afternoon. These are really small towns, reminiscent of towns like Wrangell in SE Alaska (minus the seal and porpoise meat and musk ox in the local meat market).
August 14, 2018
The second largest city in Greenland, with 5600 inhabitants, had a dock long enough for the Seabourn Quest to dock, rather than anchor and tender in to shore. The town is built on a rocky headland below a mountain, with steep roads, colorful houses and ancient archeological sites dating to 4500 BC and the Saqqac people believed to be among the first human inhabitants in Greenland.
We are now above the Arctic Circle and the Greenland Sled Dogs are now everywhere. They are either chained up in town or loose on many of the small islands around the town. Passing by the islands on the kayaks was amazing as the dogs followed us, howling all the time.
We have still not seen much marine wildlife, perhaps more in Canada.
August 15, 2018
This town, now the third largest in Greenland, lies at the mouth of Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO world heritage site. This single glacier drains between 7 and 10 percent of the entire Greenland Ice Cap and is believed to have spawned the iceberg that sank the Titanic more than 100 years ago. We approached the town and icebergs starting about 0300, with many guests watching from the observation lounge.
At 0800, after anchoring in the middle of several large bergs, we headed out on Zodiacs, weaving among the big bergs and stopping to watch Humpback Whales feed. After 2 hours, we headed back to the ship and changed out of zodiac gear and took the tender into the town. Ilulissat is growing rapidly, with much construction, but still has thousands of sled dogs chained around town, howling as one walked by. The town has an airport and many outdoor activities possible, from fishing, winter sports to visits to lodges at the terminal edge of the glacier some 40 kilometers away.
Patrick walked the several miles each way trek to Sermermiut, both the site of settlements from 4500 BC, and of spectacular views of the Ilulissat Icefjord.
After a “Caviar on the Ice” sail-away party on the pool deck, the captain wove his way through the icebergs passing very close to some spectacularly shaped bergs and back into the relatively open sea for our crossing of Davis Strait and on to Canada for the rest of our voyage.
August 16, 2018
Transiting Davis Strait
This day at sea gives us time to sort through our photos, attend some lectures on our upcoming destinations, both the cultures of the Inuit and the wildlife we are looking for. There are still bergs visible, some large but most relatively small. The visibility was poor, with the ship’s foghorn sounding much of the day and into the evening. This was the second formal evening, with a set “Chef’s Menu” in the main dining room.
August 17, 2018
Transiting Davis Strait
The weather deteriorated overnight and we woke to 30 knot winds and rain from the south. We will arrive at the town of Iqualuit for customs clearance into Canada about 2200 this evening. No one is allowed off the ship. We are arriving early due to the need to hit slack water at the entrance channel, which has currents of 6-7 knots.
The crew had intended for today’s blog entry to be about throwing off the lines and heading down the Hudson River. While everyone enjoyed the time at Shady Harbor Marina, the crew was itching to move on to new adventures.
Ever since Dora made her way to Red Head’s roof during a past docking at Shady Harbor, she has been tethered in the pilothouse whenever the boat is docking. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t needed any more since Dad constructed gates to keep her contained on the pilothouse level when underway.